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Policy Studies Certificate Curriculum

The certificate program generally takes one year and consists of 5-6 courses. Depending on a student’s academic program, the faculty advisor along with the program chair, may allow coursework substitution of one or more courses taken as part of an appropriate graduate program. Otherwise, students seeking a Certificate in Policy Studies will complete the following foundation courses:

Certificate Curriculum

  • PO SC 8600: American Government
  • ECON 8990: Selected Topics in Microeconomic Theory for Public Policy
  • Choose Three Courses PO ST 8100: Political Economy for Public Policy
  • PO ST 8420: Ethics and Public Policy
  • ECON 8200: Public Finance
  • PO ST 8220: Policy Analysis and Political Choice
  • Choose One Course Policy Course in Concentration Area

Admissions Requirements

The policy studies program is rigorous and for students who have the potential for academic and professional success. For this reason, academic preparation, intellectual ability, experience and motivation are evaluated. The program is committed to building a student body that is diverse in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity.

For admission to the Ph.D. program, the admissions committee will consider the following:

  1. A completed application form;
  2. Quality of previous academic work, including a minimum GPR of 3.0 (on a 4.0 system) for both the bachelor’s and master’s degrees;
  3. Official transcripts of all college work;
  4. Scores on the Graduate Record Examination (verbal, quantitative, and analytical portions) and in the case of international students scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination;
  5. Three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant’s academic and/or job performance;
  6. A biographical statement;
  7. A statement of interest, expressing the applicant’s reasons for seeking the Ph.D. in Policy Studies or if applicable the certificate in Policy Studies; and
  8. A fit between the student’s educational objectives and the program’s policy domains.

Applicants for the doctoral program are encouraged to demonstrate additional evidence of strong analytical and verbal skills, creativity, and commitment to the field of study. After the initial screening, the admissions committee reserves the option of interviewing applicants about their academic backgrounds, scholarly interests, and career objectives. Admission to the Certificate program is contingent on admission and satisfactory progress toward completion of another Clemson University master’s or doctoral program.

Financial Assistance

To attract high caliber graduate students, graduate research assistantships are available as well as the potential for salary supplements for externally funded projects. Assistantship appointments are for a period of one year and generally are renewable. In addition, students receiving assistantships pay reduced tuition and fees. Assistantships generally are available while students are taking classes and writing their dissertations. Research assistants work with faculty members on applications to policy thereby increasing their research experience. Decisions about awarding graduate assistantships are made in April for the Fall Semester and in early October for the Spring Semester.

Application Deadlines

The deadline for applications from domestic students is four weeks prior to registration. Registration is late August for the Fall Semester and early January for the Spring Semester. International students living abroad must have completed applications (including all supporting materials) to the Graduate School by May 1 for the Fall Semester and by October 1 for the Spring Semester. International students living in the United States do not require visa credentials until arriving on the Clemson campus. Application deadlines for these students are June 15 for Fall Semester and November 1 for Spring Semester.


For more information and an application, contact:

Dr. Bruce Ransom, Professor and Policy Studies Chairman
Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs
Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29634-0125
Telephone: 864/656-4700

Current Students


Prospective Students

Application Form

Program Contact

Carolyn Benson
2021 Barre Hall
Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29634
(864) 656-4463

Program Coordinator

Dr. Bruce Ransom
Professor and Policy Studies Chairman
Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs
Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29634-0125
(864) 656-4700